Bone Broth Has Many Benefits—But No, It Should Not Be Considered a Meal Replacement
First on the list: a bone broth expert. Namely, Jill Sheppard Davenport, CNS, LDN, a functional medicine expert, nutritionist, and the co-author of Better Broths & Healing Tonics, who explained how bone broth can be a nutrient and a health-supportive way to bolster your diet. Plus, how to make bone broth at home (vegetarian and vegan-friendly options included). Additionally, we spoke with Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, who shared some healthy ways to integrate bone broth into your daily routine and caveats important considerations to keep in mind regarding the (limited) research available regarding bone broth benefits.
What does bone broth do for your body?
We’ve heard many conversations percolating about it, especially across social media: Is bone broth good for you? According to Sheppard Davenport, the short answer is yes, largely due to its various essential nutrients and immune-supporting properties. “Bone broth is great for supporting a wide range of conditions, from gut health to pain and inflammation, sleep, and mood, thanks to its broad nutrient profile and combination of amino acids,” Sheppard Davenport says. The nutritionist likes to refer to it as a “natural multimineral” as it contains many immune-boosting nutrients.
“Broth contributes a good amount of potassium, chromium, molybdenum, magnesium, and selenium to our daily needs,” says Sheppard Davenport. Additionally, bone broth contains arginine, an amino acid that supports the immune system and helps protect against infection. The broth—made from simmering down the connective tissue in animal bones—also may contain collagen and bone-building nutrients, including minerals, amino acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin that may help reduce inflammation, according to some studies.
Meanwhile, Manaker, adds that bone broth can be very hydrating and provides fluids and electrolytes—which is important considering nearly 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Manaker also points out that bone broth can provide some protein, and, as Sheppard Davenport mentioned, it’s a particularly good source of certain amino acids. These nutrients can translate to supporting skin health, quality sleep, and joint health.
That said, the dietitian cautions against buying into the idea that sipping bone broth has all-encompassing health benefits. “While many may believe that bone broth sipping is linked to a slew of health benefits, the data is actually quite limited,” Manaker says.
The dietitian cautions against buying into the idea that sipping bone broth has all-encompassing health benefits. “While many may believe that bone broth sipping is linked to a slew of health benefits, the data is actually quite limited,”—Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN
So, is it good to drink bone broth every day?
According to Sheppard Davenport, consuming bone broth (which is not to be confused with stock, though they are similar) as a part of your morning ritual is a great way to kick-start your digestion and get your digestive juice flowing. On the flip side, she also recommends having it after a big meal to help ease digestion. “Broths can help support digestion, especially infused with additional gut-friendly ingredients add ginger, clove, and thyme—it’s a great go-to after a meal sitting heavy in your gut, causing gas or indigestion,” Sheppard Davenport says.
To provide a variety of nutrients, Sheppard Davenport makes different bone broth infusions almost daily. “I’d suggest mixing it up by drinking bone broths on some days and plant-based broths, like mushroom or vegetable, on other days. That way, you get a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory nutrients, from the best of both worlds,” she says. You can also try a dashi broth or one of these longevity-boosting broth recipes.
That said, Manaker emphasizes that drinking bone broth is a good addition to an overall healthy diet—but should not be considered a meal replacement. “While bone broth can provide important nutrients, it doesn't have enough calories to be considered a meal. One serving typically has under 100 calories, which is unlikely enough to sustain a person and keep them full and satisfied until the next mealtime,” Manaker says. “And while it does provide micronutrients, it doesn't provide a large quantity of many of them.”
Manaker emphasizes that drinking bone broth is a good addition to an overall healthy diet—but should not be considered a meal replacement. “While bone broth can provide important nutrients, it doesn't have enough calories to be considered a meal."
She also notes that it’s no magical elixir, either. “Drinking bone broth can be a good addition to an overall healthy diet. But, of course, if a person is sipping bone broth and spending the rest of their day consuming foods that are low in fiber and nutrients, it will be unlikely that they’ll experience many benefits of consuming it,” Manaker says. “So, while drinking it on occasion is likely safe, consuming multiple servings every day may not be the safest choice.”
Who should not drink bone broth?
Of course, those with food allergies to any ingredients found in bone broth should avoid it. However, it’s worth noting that most folks won’t experience these symptoms. Additionally, Sheppard Davenport says those prescribed a low-histamine diet should also be wary of their bone broth consumption. “Those with high histamine levels in the body—such as during allergy season, experiencing food allergies, or with immune system imbalances—should be mindful of their bone broth intake,” she says.
As bone broth cooks for a longer period of time, it begins to release histamines. To counteract this, Sheppard Davenport recommends pressure cooking it—instead of slow cooking—to shorten the cooking time. Additionally, she suggests freezing what you don’t intend on drinking right away, which also helps to reduce histamines from building up in your broth.
Meanwhile, Manaker recommends supplementing bone broth with additional ingredients to bolster its nutritional value. “If a person loves the idea of bone broth, you can easily turn it into a meal by enjoying it with a source of healthy fats—like avocado—and some whole grains—like quinoa or sorghum—to make it overall more nutritious,” Manaker says. She also suggests adding vegetables and additional protein (like organic tofu cubes) or enjoying it alongside fresh fruit to avoid chancing any potential nutritional gaps.
Savory vegetable bone broth recipe
Yields 8 servings
8 medium carrots, cut into thirds, unpeeled
10 celery stalks, cut into thirds
4 medium onions, quartered, skin on
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
1 Tsp salt (Celtic, Himalayan, sea)
10 peppercorns, or 1/2 tsp black pepper
4-inch piece of kombu, rinsed (optional)
8–10 cups water (or more if needed)
1 bunch fresh parsley, or 2 Tbsp dried parsley
1. Put carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and kombu (if using) in a large stockpot with a thick bottom (such as stainless steel or Dutch oven), slow cooker, pressure cooker, or multicooker. Pack vegetables well to minimize space between them, and add water to cover by about one inch.
2. Next, follow the directions for your equipment type.
3. If using a slow cooker or the stovetop-oven method, with 30 minutes left in the cooking time, add the parsley. If using a pressure cooker, let the pressure release, add parsley, and let sit on warm for 30 minutes to finish cooking.
4. Set a fine-mesh stainless steel sieve over a large pot. It’s helpful to strain your broth into a pot with a pouring spout, if you have one. Strain the broth and compost, or throw the slow-cooked ingredients away.
5. Pour the strained broth into glass containers, such as large mason jars, for storage in the refrigerator or freezer.
6. If using as a simple drinking broth rather than in one of our recipes, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Savory chicken bone broth recipe
Yields 8 servings
1 whole organic chicken, thawed, organs removed
2.5 quarts filtered water, to cover chicken by one inch (about 10 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into thirds, unpeeled
2 celery stalks, cut into thirds
1 medium onion, quartered, skin on
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
2 Tsp salt (Celtic, Himalayan, sea)
5 peppercorns, or 1/4 tsp black pepper
1. Put all ingredients in a large stockpot with a thick bottom (such as stainless steel or Dutch oven) or slow cooker. Add water to cover the chicken by about 1 inch.
2. Stovetop: Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Then skim off any scum/foam that rises to the surface and discard. Let simmer for one and a half to two hours until the chicken is fully cooked.
3. Slow cooker/multicooker: Set the temperature to the highest setting available for slow cooking. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. After boiling, skim off any scum/foam that rises to the surface and discard. Continue to slow cook for one and a half to two hours until the chicken is fully cooked. (Multicooker tips: Use the Sauté function to heat to boil. Then, to cook the chicken faster, use the More setting to increase the slow cook temperature.)
4. Using either method, simmer for up to four hours. The longer you simmer, the more flavor and nutrients you’ll have.
5. Remove the chicken from the pot. Let cool until ready to handle. Eat immediately or remove meat from bones and freeze for later use to prevent histamine content from building, if needed.
6. Set a fine-mesh, stainless steel sieve over a large pot. It’s helpful to strain your broth into a pot with a pouring spout, if you have one. Strain the broth. If the vegetables are still flavorful, use them immediately or freeze for later use, to prevent histamine content from building.
7. Pour the strained broth into glass containers, such as large mason jars, and freeze if not using immediately to maintain low-histamine content.
An herbalist shares an immunity-boosting broth recipe:
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